Skip to main content

Reply to this post | See parent post | Go Back
View Post [edit]

Poster: light into ashes Date: Mar 13, 2013 8:56pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Weir here starting soon!!!!

Some impressions...

Weir & Lesh playing together kept things very basic & acoustic, kind of a folky atmosphere. Things opened up with Playing in the Band (with piano!) - which was interesting, since without a lead guitar the jam sounds very decentered, and it brings out the jazzy feel more. Weir switched to electric, but his playing was rather strange, I wasn't sure where he was trying to go...

This was announced as the Pigpen episode, but there was not a whole lot of Pigpen discussion. Steve Parish did most the talking - Lesh not so much, in fact Lesh left early to do his own show. Weir, as mentioned, kind of rambles... (Lemieux was left out almost entirely & mostly just looked nervous!) It was very cool to see Lesh & Weir remember episodes together, but all too brief, as they were on a strict timeline.

Apparently rooming with Pigpen was risky business since he liked to party...or at least, you were subject to him serenading you with some blues songs in his underwear after downing some Southern Comfort...
Weir recalled one time in Connecticut he roomed with Pigpen and went to jail due to some unexplained shenanigans, while Pigpen went free. (This must have been either May '70 or July '71. Phil said it was for "lascivious carriage," which was indeed an offense in Connecticut...he thought it was hilarious.)
Weir said Pigpen wasn't an "ears musician" and wouldn't follow jams - he'd just play the blues. They were impressed though, by how he would connect with an audience, make up stories onstage, hook up audience members... (It's funny to see Weir remember moments we have on tape.)
Parish said that people would try to dose Pigpen since they thought it would cure his alcoholism (!), so Pigpen appointed him as guard to make sure he wasn't dosed. Lesh recalled the time at SF State (1966) when Pigpen was dosed and just went home instead of playing.
They recalled the New Orleans bust, when Pigpen was warned ahead of time about the bust by a hotel employee. (But, being drug-free, he wasn't busted!) "All the maids loved Pigpen." Lemieux mentioned the upcoming Dave's Picks release, and Phil said he'd love to hear the show with Fleetwood Mac the day after the bust.
Weir recalled that Pigpen had a 4-track machine and was working on songs up until he died; Lemieux said that tape is actually in the vault, labeled Pigpen's "last will and testament."
Parish said Pigpen came to the Dead office right before he died asking to work with them again; and Parish remembered bringing Pigpen an organ around then too; apparently he concealed his poor health from everyone & seemed to be in good spirits, so they hadn't a clue.
Weir mentions it was a congenital liver disease that got him, and also his brother Kevin: "it was not the alcohol." (Parish says it was Crohn's disease, but that doesn't sound right to me.)
Weir sums up Pigpen by saying he was nothing like a biker; he was not aggressive in any way, but very sweet and witty, with an understated dry wit.

Remembering Janis, Weir recalled that when they lived at the summer camp in '66, his room was next to Pigpen's, so when she came over he got very little sleep. "Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!" (Phil suggests that was the inspiration for "streetcats making love.")
They remembered the shows where she sang with Pigpen - the Pepperland (aka the Euphoria Ballroom) 7/16/70, and a Family Dog show (which we don't have on tape, if Parish has the location right). Weir mentions that Janis was upset with Pigpen about something at the San Rafael show.
They also remember the day her band (and everyone else) was dosed at the Fillmore West show (June '69) and she got mad at the Dead, hitting Hunter. "You killed my sax player!"
Parish recalls her living in Larkspur, just up the road from Garcia & Hunter, so the Dead roadies spent a lot of time at her house playing pool; and after she died, $1500 was left for the Dead crew to have a party in her honor. (Weir remembers it was quite a party.)

That's all the substantial discussion. Weir then goes on a tongue-in-cheek digression about the Grateful Dead religion. Parish is enthusiastic about that - "it has no name, it's too holy," and remembers how audience members would always say, "Jerry was playing just for me!" (And Jerry would say, "Yeah, I was!") Parish says they always regarded the stage as a sacred place, where visions & miracles could happen. (Like, for instance, Jerry having four cigarettes lit at the same time...) He also starts citing Hunter's 10 Commandments of Rock & Roll...
Parish also goes on for a while about drugs, recalling that when the Dead went to Europe, Ramrod smuggled over some doses that were ten times stronger than usual, so the band had some intense psychedelic times there - he remembers visiting Notre Dame with Phil on acid.

This post was modified by light into ashes on 2013-03-14 03:56:52

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: segan63 Date: Mar 14, 2013 2:30am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Weir here starting soon!!!!

To me, one of the most interesting parts of the night was Weir's comments about Pigpen not being an "ears" musician. This was a response to questions from the internet along the lines of "if Pigpen had pulled it together(not gotten sick and died, presumably), what would that have meant for the Dead's sound?". Weir then went into the rap about Pigpen not being an "ears" musician.

To me, this response suggests that Pigpen would not have stayed in the band, if he were to survive, because he would have been unable to keep up with the expansive, jazzy direction in which the band was heading.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: light into ashes Date: Mar 14, 2013 4:22am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Weir here starting soon!!!!

Perhaps, but there are a couple things to consider.

Shortly after that, they were asked what it was like to play Lovelight in a show that included more psychedelic explorations like Dark Star, St Stephen etc. Lesh replied, "It's all the same," and Weir went into an explanation of how they fit all kinds of music together.

Plus it's easy for us to overrate the "expansive, jazzy direction" of '72-74. This direction, though, did not keep them from including songs like Loose Lucy, US Blues, several Chuck Berry covers, the ever-lasting BIODTL and Don't Ease Me In, and Weir's multiple country covers. Expansive jams were really a small part of the shows; Weir's cowboy-rocker shtick was just as dominant.

So in short, I think there still would have been room for Pigpen, and the band would have fit in his blues & boogie songs just as readily as they did in the Europe '72 tour. And Pigpen was quite capable of playing organ chords behind all the new songs, even if he wasn't going to navigate through half-hour Other Ones.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: segan63 Date: Mar 14, 2013 5:33am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Weir here starting soon!!!!

Maybe Pigpen could have continued with the band if his health had improved, but I have my doubts for a few reasons:

1. According to Parish, if Pigpen still looked good and was making tapes, playing his organ, etc... up until just a day or two before he died, it seems strange that he didn't play with the band in the last ten months of his life.

2. I remember a Jerry interview in which he said something to the effect of Pigpen being the "limit" to what the Dead could do musically. In fact, that's why TC and then Keith were brought into the band. It feels like Jerry, while appreciating Pigpen's talents, may have felt that the band was moving in a direction away from Pigpen. Plus, they had tried to fire Pigpen back in '68(along with Bobby), so there was precedent.

3. Even if Pigpen could have stayed around to perform the bluesy numbers, I wonder if the other band members would want to pay him an equal share despite a limited role. Maybe the band didn't think in those terms as much as other bands, but I think it would have to be a consideration. After all, they were now paying Donna too.

4. But the reason I even thought about this to begin with, is because of Weir's response last night to a question of how the Dead's sound would have been if Pipgen stayed. He basically said that Pig didn't have the ears to follow the the way the music was going. Now maybe, Weir meant that the band would have been less "jazzy" with Pipgen around, but I think he meant that Pigpen likely would have been gone. I think that Lesh's response(to Lemieux's question) that all the different types of music flowed together was true, but also served to kill the conversation about any challenges associated with playing with Pigpen.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: segan63 Date: Mar 14, 2013 5:33am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Weir here starting soon!!!!

Maybe Pigpen could have continued with the band if his health had improved, but I have my doubts for a few reasons:

1. According to Parish, if Pigpen still looked good and was making tapes, playing his organ, etc... up until just a day or two before he died, it seems strange that he didn't play with the band in the last ten months of his life.

2. I remember a Jerry interview in which he said something to the effect of Pigpen being the "limit" to what the Dead could do musically. In fact, that's why TC and then Keith were brought into the band. It feels like Jerry, while appreciating Pigpen's talents, may have felt that the band was moving in a direction away from Pigpen. Plus, they had tried to fire Pigpen back in '68(along with Bobby), so there was precedent.

3. Even if Pigpen could have stayed around to perform the bluesy numbers, I wonder if the other band members would want to pay him an equal share despite a limited role. Maybe the band didn't think in those terms as much as other bands, but I think it would have to be a consideration. After all, they were now paying Donna too.

4. But the reason I even thought about this to begin with, is because of Weir's response last night to a question of how the Dead's sound would have been if Pipgen stayed. He basically said that Pig didn't have the ears to follow the the way the music was going. Now maybe, Weir meant that the band would have been less "jazzy" with Pipgen around, but I think he meant that Pigpen likely would have been gone. I think that Lesh's response(to Lemieux's question) that all the different types of music flowed together was true, but also served to kill the conversation about any challenges associated with playing with Pigpen.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: William Tell Date: Mar 14, 2013 7:15am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Weir here starting soon!!!!

Yeah, I am of the mind that they basically would have imploded because they wouldn't have been able to "make" the appropriate decision...ie, fire him and Bob (har, har) and move on...well, it's a hypothesis of mine, anyhoo.

Seriously. Classic Jerry/DEAD--unable to make the move that is necessary, they would have just spiralled down, down, and out.

If you think of the 72-74 explorations of the DEAD as not for Pig, imagine his response to 75-77!?! Methinks this turtle suite is just too fricking too melodramatic...

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: craven714 Date: Mar 14, 2013 7:28am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Commandment #5 ~No eating or sleeping

Of course, another nice summation by LIA. segan63 and WT~ your posts are my thoughts as well. Was this an EXP experiment?? Coulda sworn-

I agree with all that stuff. It was nice to hear the stories.
Parish could keep comin up with them. But if I was to
have one word about the conversations it would be 'tangent
Which is what the best convos sometimes are, as we know.
(see Bob 'dont rush me' Weir, so wth. Its his show man...)
Those were the highlights of the broadcast for me.
But it seemed like they kept TRYlNG to steer the convo back to PIG. Not that there is anything wrong with that. It should have been more focused on PP to me. Just my 3 cents.

Any other commandments you all can remember?
Those were funny as sh!t.
And yes, the PITB was the highlight. I laughed when Weir
said it was a 10/4 KEY signature, and no one corrected
him. HA! But I really enjoyed hearing OPERATOR, even
if Phil was struggling with the computer posted lyrics.

I guess I was one of the lucky ones who didnt have a problem with the streaming cutting off. I laughed, I cried,
it became a part of me =}

Oh, and what was with Phil ducking out?!? "Do we have a
bass player?" should not be a Q asked. Did Phil have a
probational curfew or something? He was like~ lm gonna
show up when I want to and leave in the same manner.
Damn bass players...

It was grate to see a PIG tribute though I must say~
Momma, momma many worlds have come since I - first left
home. Fare you well, fare you well, I love you more than
words can tell.
Happy Pi day as well all http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJ-HwrOpIps

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: light into ashes Date: Mar 14, 2013 6:51am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Weir here starting soon!!!!

Aha, there are arguments on both sides! I guess as a counterfactual, it can't really be settled.
Just a few more considerations...

1. Other people in the band have also said they thought Pigpen was getting better. Hard to believe, considering his condition in Europe '72, and what we know his condition in March '73 was! They do not seem to have been in a big hurry to get him back on tour, though; his health seems to be the obvious reason. I think there is a disconnect between what they're saying & what happened at the time; it's possible some poor behavior has been swept under the carpet. (In our counterfactual though, Pigpen would not have gotten so ill in the first place!)

2. I remember Jerry & Weir interviews where they said it was hard to keep going without him, like having a leg kicked out. (Despite having no evident trouble adjusting onstage.) So they may have had inconsistent feelings. The band had been moving in a direction away from Pigpen since 1966, so there may well have been a point where it would have been impossible for him to stay in the mix...I just think that point would've been closer to '75 than to '73. I can see him sitting out the whole Blues for Allah album the way he did Aoxomoxoa.

3. I don't believe paying him was a consideration. If they were paying newcomer Donna, and they were ALSO keeping Mickey on paid leave for 3 years when he wasn't even playing with them, were they going to suspend someone who'd been in the band since '65? The '68 firing had, after all, been quietly retracted within a matter of weeks.

4. I didn't interpret Weir's answer the same way, but anyway, if they did have feelings that he was still inadequate for the band, and he wasn't ill, how long might it have taken for them to actually fire him again? Remember how long things dragged out with Keith & Donna in '78 before the band could call a meeting. Heck, they couldn't even bring themselves to deal with their roadies in '74! This was a band that could barely confront anybody. I like WT's idea that they would've just kept on with him, however unhappily, until he decided to bow out.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: craven714 Date: Mar 14, 2013 8:12am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Weir here starting soon!!!!

Agree with all again, esp #4.
It goes back to the statement of 'after a DarkStar,
and/or a Saint Stephen ... a PP
tune would come out and the GD would become PPs band'.
I dont know how long that could have lasted, ya know?
It certainly played out as it did is all. A could see
a splintered band after a while as they come nowadays.
A band member here, and a special guest there...


Also, just to hear that PP was "just fine" the day before
he died from everyone was disturbing to hear imo. That
really hit me hard for some reason.
The Mickey, Donna, and Keith things are totally different stories...

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: segan63 Date: Mar 14, 2013 2:25pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Weir here starting soon!!!!

Well, they're rebroadcasting last night's performance/talk next Monday for those who missed it.

http://www.tristudios.com/upcoming

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: William Tell Date: Mar 14, 2013 8:16am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Weir here starting soon!!!!

BTW, had not recalled hearing/reading that any of PP's condition was in any way congenital, BUT even wiki sez so these days (after reading your post, quickly googled it, and found something about CBC, though obviously it sez etoh is the ONE thing you can't do with this condition, thus, Bob may be using it as a "med cop out", in the sense that "oh, well, it wasn't really his drinking or anything we did that encouraged that, it was predetermined"...not saying Bob thinks this, but you get the idea--we like conditions that are not environmental for just such reasons, blah, blah, blah...just like my wife can say "oh, him? yeah, he's stuck to the computer and his little dinky DEAD site, but it's congenital, so don't mention it").